Combating Awkwardness

  It’s the first day of the school year. All new classes, a new daily routine, a completely different homework load, and for some an entirely new social circle. For a vast majority of the teenage demographic, challenges can be presented in preparing for the future, figuring out exactly who you are, and juggling workload with extracurricular activities; let alone starting the process of making friends all over again.

  Whether you are a freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior, the process and vulnerability that comes with attempting to make a new friend is all the same. When rebuilding a social circle after a substantial period of time or within an entirely new academic environment, there is always the potential of an awkward situation occurring at any given moment. However, these types of situations can easily be remedied with a few hints on natural conversation, an open mind, and a stellar personality.

  Breaking the threshold between silence and casual conversation seems to be the main concern when it comes to the stressful aspects of social interaction. Teenagers, having thoroughly developed personalities, may find it strenuous to revert back to the kindergarten methods of meeting a new person. Often times, when you are younger, directly asking the other person to be your best friend is highly effective; even asking what the other person’s name and favorite color is can create a bond for life. Yet, in high school, more interesting conversation topics may be necessary in order to capture the other person’s attention. Introducing yourself with a small smile, asking what the other person’s major is, and striking up a conversation are among the most common ways to go about meeting a new person Emma Reid, 9th grade, band major, said.  Additionally, for those who refer to themselves as introverts, developing an initial close-knit group may have been difficult in the first place. The prospect of having to relive the process may seem terrifying.

  “ Making friends is harder for me because I’m not a very social person. Engaging a conversation would make me anxious and nervous, which tends to make things complicated,” Sal Dabbs, 9th grade, band major, explained about the concept of a new social situation.

  Being comfortable with yourself is important  in ensuring positive social interactions for the future. Teenagers find great comfort in previously established social circles where they have the reassurance that they are already accepted for who they are and potential quirks as well as personalities will not be questioned. Furthermore, a feeling of rejection because of a particular person’s personality type can be quite traumatizing to deal with when you are stepping out of your comfort zone for one of the first times in adolescence. In this regard, social interaction seems like an insurmountable odd.

  “Making new friends is a big step out of that comfort zone, one which teens don’t want to take; especially with the whole thing about cliques. They’re the people you know and who know you. To go beyond that clique is to accept change, which we don’t do easily,” Emma said about the general issue with making friends.

  In certain cases, someone may find that pure independence is a suitable alternative to the potential difficulty of engaging another person socially. However, being self-sufficient may not necessarily be the most beneficial thing in the long run. “It’s nice to be alone to have some time to think. But when it comes to being happy and getting stuff done, it’s a lot better to have someone in your corner,” Sal said.

  Generally speaking, people often love to talk about things that reflect the passions they might have in life. When all else fails in the rigorous battle to survive socializing, finding common ground may be useful when attempting to keep the conversation going. A similar interest, a movie you have both seen, a love of potatoes, or the same favorite music genre are just a few topics that could potentially strike interest with the person you have been engaging. Never let the subject being discussed lag or seem uninteresting. Regardless of whether you feel as though you are talking excessively, if the other person is able to effortlessly carry out the conversation, continue chatting about whatever may come about naturally. “ I would probably ask what their major is and strike up a conversation on that. If it’s music, heck ya! If it’s visual arts or something like that, I can bring up how horrible I am at that and ask for tips.” Emma added about initiating conversation.  

   In certain instances, friends can often come in the most unconventional ways. Perhaps someone carried around a wooden plank all day at school, and they were referred to as Plank Guy until further conversation was initiated. Maybe there is a person who is solely referred to by the name of the instrument they play, and this allows some room to casually start a discussion. The concept that should constantly be kept in mind is that the process should feel natural. There are times in which certain personality types don’t relate well to one another. These situations should not be feared or reasons to discourage a form contact between peers. They merely serve as guidelines that help distinguish who could potentially be your lifelong friend or the person you talk to in PE class.